ITOCHU Announces Initiative for Sustainable Development Goals Designed to Facilitate Procurement of Sesame in Malawi

August 20, 2021

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it had started an initiative for the SDGs designed to facilitate the procurement of sesame in Malawi in collaboration with TAKEMOTO Oil & Fat Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Gamagori, Aichi; Motoyasu Takemoto, President & Chief Executive Officer; hereinafter “TAKEMOTO Oil & Fat”). The initiative is the first of its kind in the industry.

Demand for sesame products in Japan is strong despite the coronavirus pandemic, and it is expected to grow further owing to the diversification of use and export growth. Nevertheless, more than 99 percent of raw sesame seeds are imported from overseas. For this reason, the stable procurement of quality, safe and reliable sesame seeds in key production areas, such as Africa and Latin America, has been an issue.
Malawi, where the initiative is being taken, is a country whose key industry is agriculture. It is one of the countries that has successfully increased the production volume of sesame seeds to meet growing demand in recent years. Nevertheless, Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It is essential to improve the living environments of local farmers to achieve stable production.

ITOCHU and TAKEMOTO Oil & Fat successfully introduced a system. They pay premium prices at the time of purchasing sesame seeds, which are then controlled by local suppliers to help improve the local infrastructure of Malawi. The first achievement is the provision of emergency vehicles to a health center. The health center in the Chikwawa district has a general out-patient department. It is built with the support of the Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects, which is one of the official development assistance organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This improves access to medical care for farmers who currently live far from a hospital. It also enables the health center to deal with cases with high urgency. ITOCHU intends to take further steps to promote the SDGs. Providing more farmers with opportunities to receive medical care and improving hygienic conditions are some of the key issues.

ITOCHU began trading sesame seeds in 1951, and currently imports approximately 80,000 metric tons annually from 25 countries. As a leading sesame importer, ITOCHU aims to support the sustainable production and procurement of quality sesame seeds through continuous efforts in close cooperation with stakeholders to introduce effective initiatives for the SDGs.